The police force worldwide is one of the most important bodies in public administration in any given country. Police officers are tasked with the roles of crime prevention, apprehending criminals, maintaining law and public order, detecting crimes, investigating crime and protecting citizens and their property among other duties (Dempsey & Forst, 2009). Police officers are empowered by the law to arrest suspected criminals and detain them for limited periods as stipulated by the law. They are also expected to maintain peaces by ensuring that order is maintained .among other roles that police officer play include that of responding to emergencies such as fires ,natural disasters accidents .the presence of policemen in most emergencies normally have a calming effect to the members of the public. It is for this reasons that they are normally deployed alongside other emergency workers or specialists when disaster occurs (Banks, 2004).
Role of the Police in Public Administration in Any Country
The police force also plays a major role in protecting the dignitaries or the ranking members of the society .who due to their sensitive public services are deemed vulnerable to attacks by criminals. They also maintain order during functions that draw large numbers of individuals in one place. In other words where there are crowds it is the duty of the police force to ensure that order is maintained in order to avoid disasters that can result from such activities as stampedes and to also ensure that the crowds are protected against individuals who have criminal intents. Therefore the duties or the expected roles of the police force vary from endangering g their own lives for the safety of the public to assurances to the public by their mere presence. Besides these obvious roles the mere presence of police officers can deter crime. However the role of police officers in the society is at times ambiguous given that they are rarely clearly defined (Villiers, 2009). Nonetheless police officers are supposed to lay their lives in line to protect their members of public in danger as well as for the lives of their fellow officers.
The Police force has broadly defined roles police officers are expected to carry out. Considering that they are supposed to offer their services to large population segments then their proportion to the members of the society should be an important factor in managing the affairs of the polices force. The United Nations recommends that the ratio of police officers to the civilian population be is one police officer to 400 individual members of the society (Villiers, 2009).
In the USA the role of policing and law enforcement which is under the criminal justice department is carried out by a number of departments. These departments operate independent of each other with their roles being determined by the judiciary. In addition to the roles that the police force is tasked with they are also expected to investigate suspicious activities in the society .after making the arrest they refer the cases and the suspects to the judiciary system for determination of guilt by courts of law and appropriate sentencing where suspected criminals are found to have broken the laws.
They are also tasked with preventing criminal activities that are in progress which at times can be dangerous especially if the suspect involved are armed .it when carrying out such law enforcement activities that the officers normally risk their lives and some of such incidents have often ended in fatality for some officers and suspected criminals according to the statistics carried out by the FBI in the year 2010 fifty six officers died in the line of duty while forty eight were killed in the year 2009. A number of members of the police force lose their lives while investigating suspected criminal activities while others loose their lives while in pursuit of suspected criminals on vehicles. Other looses their lives when responding to domestic disturbances reports (Federal Bureau of Investigatiom, 2010).
Varying Duties of the Police Force
Police force as arlier noted is expected to carry out a number of often ambiguous roles. It is due to these varying duties plus the complexities created by laws especially federal and state laws that the police force is structured into different departments with varying mandates. For example police forces departments that are under any given state can not pursue criminals when they cross to a different state under a different police department. It is only the officers under the federal government jurisdiction such as the FBI who are mandated to pursue criminals regardless of the state boundaries. The structure of the police force in the US comprises officers under federal government jurisdiction and others under given states (Villiers, 2009). The justices department is mainly responsible for the federal police forces which comprises among other departments the federal bureau of investigation (FBI), The US Marshals Service, The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives), The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).Also under the federal government under the Homeland Department (DHS) are such police departments as the CBP (U.S. Customs And Border Protection), The Secret Service, The Coast Guards , The ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) ,TSA (Transportation Security Administration) and the United States Pentagon Police (Dempsey & Forst, 2009). Under the various states in the USA there are such departments Highway Patrol ,State Police ,State Bureaus Of Investigation that are answerable to the various state governors .the other state departments have their own polices force such as Departments of Correction , The capitol police , State Hospitals , Game Wardens , Water police and state universities commonly known as the campus police. All these police departments have officers that are empowered by laws to carry full polices powers.
At the municipal levels there are police departments with officers with similar polices powers to those of the state polices but operate under the jurisdictions of their own counties such as the County police and the Sheriffs’ Departments. Similarly under the municipals there are police departments that operate within the localities of their own municipals such as the LAPD, (Los Angeles Police Department), NYPD (New York Police Department) and CPD (Chicago police department) among many other municipalities that have police departments that take on the names of their municipalities. In the municipalities also there are the Marshalls with similar police powers like most of the other police departments. Since the all these departments are empowered by the laws to fight crimes and maintain law and order of their roles often overlap .for example the state police from one state can not as earlier mentioned purse criminals beyond their state lines that is the work of the FBI and the other federal police agencies yet the state lines that the criminal cross to , there are state police departments there with officers with full police powers. Also because there is a specialized department tasked with narcotic related crimes that is the DEA it does not mean that the LAPD or the other state police agencies in their respective states completely ignore drug related crimes in fact they have their own drug task forces within their own polices departments (Banks, 2004). It is out of these complexities in police operations especially among the federal and state officers and the duplication of duties and roles that tend to convey the impression that the police forces are over staffed.
The Mistrust of the Society to the Law Enforcement Officers
Most of the discussion that arise on whether a large force is necessary often stem from the mistrust that the society often hold for the law enforcement officers. Yet when in trouble or having been victims of criminal activities most members of the society complain about the police force inadequacies. This perhaps stems from the fact that the interaction between the police and society is not often a present experience. Since the police forces is empowered not only to investigate crime but also to investigate suspicious activities this role often implies that they are empowered to stop members of the public whom they deem to be suspicious and carry out searches that most individuals in the society often view as intrusive (Banks, 2004).
Additionally the police are also tasked with enforcing the traffic rules and arresting the offenders besides giving found those violating traffic rules tickets. Of the major citations of law violations that are carried out by the members of the society in the USA traffic violation offences are the majority of law breaking incidences that the police forces are able to catch the offenders. In addition minor offences such as drinking incidences ,public disturbances ,disorderly conduct ,vagrancy ,drunkenness ,curfew violations ,liquor laws ,driving while drunk ,suspicion ,drug offences, gambling vandalism , prostitution among other minor violations of the law comprises that most of the arrests that the are carried out by the police force (Dempsey & Forst, 2009).Indeed in the year 2007 more than fourteen million Americans were arrested for various offences ranging from serious crimes offences to misdemeanors offences. Of these fourteen million arrests traffic offences were excluded mainly because the police force is empowered to give offending drivers tickets so that they can pay the indicated fines without burdening the judicial system (Rantala, 2009 ). The point is that majority of the offenders arrested were those who had carried out small violations of the law. It is due to such high numbers of misdemeanors offences that the public often feels let down by the police force and thus treats them with suspicion (Rantala, 2009 ). Yet one of the most important roles that the police force are expected to carry out is that of maintaining order in the society.
The small violations that the majority of the populations are arrested for normally are acts of deviation from the norm capable of creating a disorderly society when one considers the many violators that the police officers often arrest. Dempsey & Forst, 2009 argue that out of the many requests or calls made to the police forces most of these request are foten to aid in maintainance of peaces and order and few percentage of such request involves serious criminal activities such as theft murder kidnappigs .They also point out that most of the contacts between members of the police force and the citizens often involves minor traffic offences.It is when we consinders issues from such a perspective that we beging to understand why some of the members of the society are of the view that police forces as overstaffed.In other words if the only contact between an individual mainly involves small viollations of the law on their behalf .They tend to justify their breaking of the law interms of polices force having more than neccesary staff to follow them on the minor and little incidents.Yet when major incidents occur that put many lives at risks or where lose of life is experience it is when the society starts to realise that despite the seemingly many officers in police forces and the many departments that exist in the country the police force is inadequately staffed and often ill equiped especially against sophiscated crimes.Similary most of the individuals who residice in areas where crime is rampant like some of the neighbourhoods in NewYork where youth gangs are a menace stories of polices inadequecy startts to arise.therefore the issue of police force staffin g largely depends with an individuals or a segment of the society encounters with the members of the police force ,crime or the kind or neighbourhood where one lives.the more secuer one feels or the less serious crimes one encounters or hears abouts the more they think that the police force is overstaff .conversely if one lives in areas where criminal activities are the norms such as narcotics dealings in the streets ,gang controled areas or constant gunshots from numerous gunfights the moreone wonders why the government can not hire more officers into the polices forces and literarly guard each house or fill the streets thatb they gangs would niot be able to carry out their activities.put simply the adage that goes “where is the policeman when you need one” becomes the brutal reality when one becomes a victim of crime ,threats ,or has to often face or wade through crimes prones areas.
Despite all these perspectives however the question of whether the police force has adequate memebers that can enable it fights crimes, maintain law and oreder and protect the society and properties. Among the many roles that we expect them to play still linger at the back of ones mind. Though not a very easy question to answer the duplication of roles is perhaps one of the factors that leaves the impression of an overstaffed police forces.the united nations recommends that the ration of police officers to that of the members be one officer for every four hundrend individuals.this is the ratio that according to the UN can enable the police officers effectively carry out their duties ( Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Home Affairs Committee.; Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons, 2010) .Yet in some of the state in the USA these ratios are much lower and yet crime rates are still higher.
One of the facts that the FBI acknowledges in their statistical analysis of crime is that not all crime that takes place is reported.this means that the rates are much higher than their figures indicate especially the petty crime.it should also be noted that in these reports the traffic offences that comprices the most contact between the police officers and the citizens are not included in their statistics .therefore were such offences to be included the rates of crimes would increase exponentially.the questin that arises therefore is that should we reduce the number of the police force since the major crimes can be investigated and deterred by those members already in the force? If the answer to such aquestion is an affarmative one then we can but wonder whether the minor offences should be ignored sothat the police force can tackle the “ real crime” that is the serious offences.at this point the next qustion that arise is whether the police forces would not be ignoring one of their major role which enatils maintaining oreder in the society.